Monday, September 21, 2009

Big Brothers, Big Sisters

Some of you may already know that I've signed up to be a Big Sister with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Well, after an orientation, an interview, a background check, and weeks of searching, they've finally found a Little Sister for me. Now even though I've already got two little sisters of my own who are just awesome, I thought it'd be a fun idea to pair up with another little girl who may not necessarily have someone older to regularly hang out and spend some time with.

I get to meet my Little today and as an ice-breaker I thought it'd be a good idea to show up with something that really represents me: cupcakes! I made some vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting and filled them with strawberry filling. I made some violet-colored fondant flowers to decorate them with, too, because her name is Violet.

Also, I got the chance to try out my Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. Woohoo!

Yes, I DO know the way to San Jose!

Oh my, has it really been that long since my last update? For heaven’s sakes, WHERE ARE MY PRIORITIES? Oh, right, I was on a business trip. Alone. With no computer. GASP! Can you believe it?? Yes, from Wednesday to Friday of last week I was in San Jose attending the League of California Cities Conference. I stayed at the lovely Fairmont Hotel (seriously, lovely doesn’t even begin to describe this place. This place is the freaking PLAZA of San Jose, I’m telling you! ) and met up with Tavis, the most amazing concierge I have ever met. And yes, I’ve met more than one concierge. In San Jose, at Tavis’ recommendation, I saw Spamalot (FINALLY!), ate at Bella Mia, an Italian restaurant with simply the best vodka cream sauce I’ve ever had, and spent an evening walking around Santana Row, a mall that I cannot fully describe yet seems to be a hybrid between an open-air mall and a park (Think Fashion Valley meets Balboa Park.)

On my first day there, I had a couple hours free before I was able to begin setting up our booth. I took that time to orient myself in my new surroundings and take a look around at the local scene. After visiting an information kiosk at the convention center, I found a local cupcake shop that wasn’t too far from the hotel: Love’s Cupcakes. There I met Vanessa, the owner’s daughter, who was only too happy to chat with me about my favorite thing: cupcakes! She even offered me a suggestion on a cupcake to try and of course I absolutely loved it.

Vanessa showing off her wares

Me with my itty-bitty cupcake!

Check out this little beauty! It’s a chocolate cupcake with a cheesecake center and it’s drizzled with chocolate frosting. Isn’t it to die for??

Wait, let me check...

Yes, yes it is to die for.

Thursday morning, as I was on my way down the elevator, I ran into a wonderful woman from Sacramento named Connie. Little did I know she was in San Jose to attend the conference, too! We ended up having breakfast together and talked about all sorts of things from our current jobs to our lives and dreams. When I talked to her about my hesitations about opening up a cupcake shop of my own (I'm afraid the cupcake wave will come crashing down as I'm trying to get on my feet), she simply stated:

"Well, there still are donut shops, aren't there?"

Well played, Connie, well played.

That night Tavis joined up in my quest for cupcakes and recommended Kara’s Cupcakes in Santana Row. Totally different style of cupcake yet equally as pleasing. He’s just so good at recommending things! Tavis, if you’re reading this, you’re fantastic! I can’t wait to come back to San Jose just to plan another evening with you!

Also while I was in Santana Row I took the time to stop at Sur la Table to check out their gadgets. Kitchen stores are by far one of my ultimate weaknesses. Though I attempted to walk past without a second glance, I finally decided that I actually did need to go inside because I could fulfill one of my new missions: get some legitimate vanilla extract and give it a go! I’ve never sought out quality vanilla but after reading so many blogs in which people talk about their favorite vanillas I realized I’m probably missing out on something big. Cassie recommended “Vanilla Bean Crush” from the Sonoma Syrup Company. I checked them out online and they have some great reviews! It was between that and the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. I ended up choosing the latter for two reasons: One, Love’s Cupcakes advertised in their shop that that’s the vanilla they use, and two, when I was in Sur la Table, it was the brand they carried! I can’t wait to try it out.